The average American wastes more than 20 pounds of food per month. That’s right, 20 pounds every month! It seems outrageous to think anyone would spend their hard-earned cash on food they don’t plan on eating, so what’s the problem? While some of this food is lost during production and processing, a large amount is wasted because the food goes bad before people have a chance to eat it. You know you’ve been there… opening the fridge to find a bag full of wilted spinach you had every intention of eating. So how do you fix this? Here are 9 easy hacks to keep your food fresh for longer.
- Store Lettuce With Dry Paper Towel
It can be hard to keep lettuce leaves from wilting quickly once they’re harvested, as they immediately begin seeping water. And then there’s the naturally-occurring bacteria and molds that invade the plants and make them slimy. To avoid these issues, simply wash your spinach, arugula or any other lettuce when you get home from the market, dry in a salad spinner and store in a plastic bag or air-tight container with a dry paper towel to keep moisture at bay.
- Keep Your Basil On The Countertop
Many fresh herbs love the refrigerator, but basil is not one of them. It turns black and wilts quickly at low temperatures, which is why it’s best stored on the countertop. Keep the stems intact and place the bunch in a cup of water or wrapped in a wet paper towel.
- Coat Your Halved Avocados And Apples In Citrus
When cut open, these two fruits tend to start browning in mere minutes. This is because cutting them exposes the inside of the fruit to oxygen, which releases enzymes that increase the rate by which the fruit reacts to that oxygen. But citric acid, which is naturally found in lemons and limes, works to inactivate those enzymes, therefore slowing the browning process. All you have to do is squirt or brush your halved avocado or apple with lemon or lime juice and store in an airtight container or plastic wrap.
- Turn Your Herbs Into Ice Cubes
Whether you’ve harvested a bunch from your garden or you bought them from the store, sometimes you simply can’t go through your fresh herbs quickly enough, and they turn bad before you have a chance to enjoy them. If you only want enough for one recipe, and aren’t planning on using them within the next several days, chop and freeze them into ice cube molds made of olive oil and water so they don’t rot or get dried out.
- Store Potatoes In A Brown Paper Bag
When exposed to too much light, potatoes begin to get a greenish color, which is the result of the production of a compound called solanine—a glycoalkaloid toxin. Not only will this ruin the taste, but it can make you sick as well, which is why it’s best to keep your potatoes out of light. Storing them in a brown paper bag will reduce excess moisture as well. Just be mindful not to put them in the refrigerator, which can turn their starch into sugar.
- Store Tomatoes In A Brown Paper Bag
While you might bring home your tomatoes in plastic bags, they should never be stored this way, as the ethylene in them causes them to ripen and spoil quicker. Instead, store them in a paper bag and dry place at room temperature away from sunlight. If they aren’t ripe yet, keep them stem side down, and if you want them to ripen faster, store them with other fruits that contain ethylene.
- Let Your Cheese Breathe
Wrap your cheese in porous material like cheese paper or parchment paper and avoid tinfoil and tight plastic wrap. Not allowing your cheese to breathe causes it to dry out too quickly.
- Revive Your Crystallized Honey
It always feels like such a shame when your expensive jar of honey is rock solid, but fear not! You can revive your crystallized honey by placing the jar in a frying pan on the stove with simmering water and stirring the honey until the crystals have vanished. Be mindful not to ever keep honey in the fridge, which causes crystallization. Honey lasts forever thanks to the enzymes in bees’ stomachs that create by-products to fight bacteria.
- Keep Your Berries Fresh
Does it ever seem like your fresh berries turn to mush and mold long before you have a chance to finish them? When you bring your berries home from the market, the key is to kill any spores on the fruit, and the pH of vinegar is the answer. Simply place the berries in a bowl and wash them with 1 cup of white vinegar and 8 cups of water. Let them sit in the solution, gently circling the bowl to remove any dirt and allowing the vinegar to kill spores and bacteria. Next, drain the berries in a colander, thoroughly rinse with water, pat dry with a paper towel and store in a sealed container lined with paper towels.
Check out more fun food storage ideas here!